According to a report released by the EFLI‘s official Facebook, Lalit Saini, linebacker for the Delhi Defenders, passed away earlier this week at the age of 26.
Saini, who led the Defenders last season in interception return yards, cemented a defense that gave up fewer than six points per game in the eight-game inaugural season of the EFLI. Saini was also second on the team with 92 yards off four kick returns. Saini filled sparingly in on offense for select plays, finishing the season with one reception for three yards. Anant Verma led the Defenders’ receiving corps with three touchdowns.
Behind the leadership of Saini, the Defenders made it to the title game where they ultimately lost 0-6 to the Pune Marathas. Defense is clearly a must-have in the EFLI as the top two teams in the league were also the two best defensive units during the season.
The collective feeling within his family, friends, the team and the league is clearly one of shock and disbelief. Hopefully the league honors Saini when the league’s second season kicks off later in 2014. The Delhi Defenders are expected to retire his No. 20 jersey to honor Saini.
Prayers go out to his family and friends. The EFLI’s Facebook page urges the players to perform to their full potential in season two, just as Saini would have. His passion, determination and raw love for the game will always live on in the fabric of the league. In the words of the league and its closest members, #RIPBeast.